Little Big Bear makes strong impression at Naas

Little Big Bear got off the mark at the second attempt when taking the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden at Naas on Saturday.

Beaten just a short head on debut at the Curragh, the imposing Aidan O’Brien-trained son of No Nay Never tracked the eventual second Alexis Zorba throughout the five-furlong contest, before hitting full flight in the final furlong to win a hard-held three lengths at odds of 4-9.

Betfair shortened the Ballydoyle youngster into 6-1 from 10-1 for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, and winning jockey Seamie Heffernan believes Little Big Bear is a talented operator.

“He’s a massive big colt with loads of pace. He finished out well and hopefully he keeps progressing,” he said.

“I was always comfortable, he was the class horse in the race and he finished well.

“He started at six and went back to five, he has buckets of pace but he relaxes.

“They need to progress from run to run and be up for the fight. He ticks all the boxes at the moment.”

There was a thriller in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race where Shartash franked the form of Little Big Bear’s earlier victory when just pipping the 1.1million guineas buy Age Of Kings in a photo.

Johnny Murtagh’s youngster was third behind Tough Talk (first) and Little Big Bear (second) on debut and that racecourse experience came to the fore here to grind down the O’Brien’s well-bred Kingman colt.

Curragh Racecourse – Sunday April 10th
Johnny Murtagh saddled the winner of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race (Donall Farmer/PA)

“It’s great. Coming here I was confident that it would take a smart one to beat him,” said Murtagh.

“He’s a sharp colt, for one of the Aga’s he shows plenty of pace. It was a bit close for comfort, the other one was battling back at the end.

“He’s a nice colt. He’s tough, he’s hardy and we’ll stick him up into stakes class now.

“We were delighted with our lad first time when he finished third and you saw what the second did today. I was getting a bit more confident then but then you see the opposition you’re up against in Ireland.

“Pat (Downes) was just saying the mare is pretty useful.

“I’m after running a couple of two-year-olds that disappointed but this lad is probably the sharpest we have at the moment.

“We’ve a few nice horses that will take a bit of time but I’ve got a few sharp ones for his Highness this year and in the next couple of weeks we should have a few more out.”

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